Saturday, March 31, 2012

march bookstand

Only two this month. I have been slogging through a book on George IV and his wife Caroline's effect on the state of the English monarchy, which, while interesting, is taking me a while.

The rest of my time has been spent catching up on a considerable backlog of The New Yorker. There were quite a few great articles awaiting my attention, including a heart-breaking one about the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina and a fascinating look at the training of police dogs in New York City.

So for the two books I did get finished:

The Second Time We Met, by Leila Cobo
Highly recommend. This was a gripping perspective on adoption from three points of view: the birth mother, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee. The majority of the story is set in Colombia, and provides an interesting perspective on the country.

1105 Yakima Street, by Debbie Macomber
Recommend, if you have read the first ten books in the series... I am a Debbie Macomber junkie, but I am happy to see this series coming to an end. One more book and then done, and I feel compelled to march along to the bitter end. The woman's prolificacy is nothing short of astonishing, however.

Only one book from the bookshelf, but maybe I will finish the English history one for next month.

Friday, March 30, 2012

cliffhanger resolution

We have been so busy waiting for lambs not to be born that I forgot I left a inadvertant cliffhanger with my post on Wednesday. Long story short: no lambs yet, and Henrietta is even bigger, if such a thing is possible. Her official due date was today, and with a storm blowing in, I was sure that would do the trick.


Tomorrow is a crazy day, so crazy that I can't fit all the events into the little box on the calendar. Primo has his first track meet of the season; Secondo and I are going to Rutgers with the 4-H club for a symposium; and Terzo and his father have a meeting, a million and one errands and a baseball practice, in that order.

Let's all guess what's going to happen. Oh yes, I forgot to mention: Holly is due tomorrow.

In other news, we had to break out the bottles for the triplets this evening. The little black one stopped gaining weight as of two days ago. We have all seen him nursing, although he tends to get bumped off by his pushier and slightly stronger white siblings. He is not weak or showing signs of starvation—yet—but he is a little less frisky than the other two. He wasn't very enthusiastic about the bottle, though we will keep trying.

We did think about buying a few tickets for the Mega Millions lottery drawing tonight, but the triplet ram lambs suggest that Lady Luck isn't really in our corner at the moment.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the wonderous outside

We judged it warm enough, and the bonding established enough, to let the triplets outside with Jasmine for the first time today. She was thrilled to get out onto some fresh grass, compliments of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having.

For the most part, the triplets stuck right by her, though the white ones are already a little more mischievous and starting to push the boundaries. But when she got a little too far away and she called for them to follow her, they were quick to respond!

You can see the spotted one is having no trouble with his legs! The problem, whatever it was, is completely resolved.

We have another one in labor tonight. The last few days she has looked like she is trying to smuggle basketballs, so I suspect more triplets—and she had triplets last year too.

She's down and pushing now in the early stages of labor, so it's back out to the barn for us!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

burning question

To answer the question that's at the top of everyone's mind:

No, Mama Cat did not manage to hatch out a half bird/half kitten baby yet.

Oh! You mean the other question!

Yes, the little lame ram lamb is still alive. Even better, the leg seems to be strengthening on its own. The current prevailing theory is that it was misaligned in utero. Goodness knows there couldn't have been much room in there.

Yes, of course, he is cute as the dickens,
which doesn't help matters.

Previous experience with triplets has taught us a lot about managing them to spot any potential problems early on. We have found these hands-on tricks to be especially helpful—along the lines of "a stitch in time saves nine":

  1.  A quick check of mouth (using a finger) and ear (using hands) temperature of every lamb every time we go to the barn. If the ears feel a little cool to our touch, we keep a close eye, but if the mouth feels cold, time for immediate intervention. The lamb is headed for hypothermia, and they don't have any body fat yet to draw on.
  2. Weighing each lamb the same time every day for the first few weeks, and writing the weights down, to track any discrepancies between lambs or worse, a failure to gain any weight at all.
  3. Spending a few minutes in the barn every trip, just observing the interaction between ewe and lambs and the general behavior and demeanor of each one.
  4. Along those lines... watching the lambs as they get up. If they stretch after they rise, it's a good sign that they are getting enough to eat.
I am pleased to report that Jasmine is still doing a bang-up job on all of these metrics, even more impressive given that this is her first time lambing. All three lambs have gained a pound since birth.

Today we took my LSH's father and step-mother out to the barn to see the lambs, and my LSH took out the black one for them to hold. Jasmine carefully checked the remaining lambs and you could almost see her counting "one, two..." She checked them over again, looked all around the jug, and then called to her missing one. I never thought that sheep could count, but she proved me wrong!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

in like a lion

Not at all in reference to this month of March. As a shepherding friend recently described it, the past six months have been an extended fall, and now we are already into well into spring, despite its relatively recent arrival according to the calendar.

I am referring instead to our lambing season. I came out to the pasture this morning and sensed that something was up from a distance. I couldn't get a clear view but there appeared to be little things wandering around that hadn't been there before.

Sure enough, Jasmine had triplets this morning—four days early, according to the marking harness, but maybe she wanted to take advantage of the last mild morning before the inclement weather blew in.

It was my favorite kind of birth. She had them all dried off and full of colostrum before we even arrived on the scene. Her mother was a birthing diva and constantly needed assistance, but luckily Jasmine does not seem to have inherited that trait.

Jasmine is in the middle;
the ewe to the right is her half-sister Kevyn.

It's fitting that she is kicking off our lambing season with triplets, as she was the first of our first set of triplets born on the farm, and her birth started our lambing season two years ago, almost to the day.

Unfortunately, all three are ram lambs. Even more unfortunately, the spotted one is having a problem with his left hind leg. Everything was so chaotic when we found them this morning that I didn't remember seeing a problem. I worried we had somehow injured him as we carried them back to the barn with mama in tow, to get them settled in the relative peace and quiet of a lambing jug. My LSH had taken a quick video with his iphone in the field, though, which clearly showed the problem was there when we found them.

(If you listen, you can hear Terzo point out that one is having difficulty walking, and then lamenting with the rest of us that they are all ram lambs—because he knows chances are slim that any of them will be sticking around.)

Something must have happened either in the womb or during the birthing process. The leg is not broken; my LSH suspects a problem with the tendon or ligament.

The lamb is nursing fine, and we have been checking them constantly today and noticed that he can get up and to the milk bar by himself. Jasmine is proving herself to be an excellent mother and very patient with all of them. I was concerned that she might reject him due to his wobbles, but so far there is no sign of that. She has earned nothing but gold stars today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

funny farm

Things are all topsy-turvy on the farm these days. Maybe those sun flares are still having an effect.

The chickens have decided that they vastly prefer cheap cat food to their own layer mix, oyster shells and table scraps.

Amazingly enough, the cats pretty much tolerate it, though they have apparently decided to get back at the chickens in their own form of revenge:

Hatching an egg, a la Horton. Keep on trying, Mama Cat. You may not be able to have kittens anymore, but who knows, stranger things have happened—though it is an uphill battle, as that egg is unfertilized.

Monday, March 19, 2012

2nd grade nutrition

Last week, my LSH was tapped to talk to Terzo's second grade class about nutrition from a doctor's point of view, as part of their unit on that topic. Actually, I volunteered him, but he was a good sport about it, even wearing in his white coat as requested by Terzo.

Today he received thank you notes from the class. I can't resist sharing a few of them, just because there is nothing like second grade spelling (though you need to take what they learned with a grain of salt):

"I like leaning about frut and fechable."

"I liked when you said an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

"I learned that mashpitatos are good for you!! I want to know if you can have ice cream every night for dessert?"

"You taught us how to eat very very helthy so our botys can stay nice and strong."

But our heads-above-the-rest favorite:

"Thank you for coming into awer classroom and telling abuot hellth. Some cidds needed it."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

dairy bowl

Nope, not a bowl of ice cream. An actual competition where they ask 4-H kids questions about dairy cows and dairy operations and the dairy business and important dates in dairy history (who knew) and just about every affliction that can be visited on an unlucky dairy cow. Not to mention the whole reproductive process.

It is mind-boggling how much information this is.

Seven kids from the 4-H club decided a few months ago that this sounded like a lot of fun, or at least something that they had an interest in doing. Two of them were Primo and Secondo. None of them have ever owned or worked with a cow, and two of them own no livestock, just rabbits.

Once they got into the sheer volume of material they may have had second thoughts, but they (rarely) let on. Those kids kept plugging away, learning such things as:

(a) the scientific name for mad cow disease; and...

(b) which breed is known for its golden milk; and...

(c) the fast food chain that uses the most milk; and...

(d) how old a calf is when it begins to chew its cud; and...

(e) how many pounds of whole milk it takes to make a pound of cheese; and...

(f) what month is National Ice Cream Month...

That's just the tip of the iceberg. (But the answers are below in case you want to know.)

We had multiple study sessions together, and for the past three weeks, I e-mailed them ten questions to study, every night. Even past the point where I suspected they weren't even looking at the e-mails, I kept it up. I didn't want them to think I had given up on them. What they did with the help was their choice.

Today they got the chance to test their knowledge. The kids they were competing against had cows of their own, so there was a bit of a handicap, but they made a pretty good showing! They kept on studying during their breaks, trying to cram even more cow-related information into their brains.

At the end of the day, they didn't advance, but they weren't particularly disappointed. They all answered at least one question correctly and they knew the answers to quite a few more (the competition was a buzzer system that rewarded a good knowledge of how the buzzer worked). Most of them plan to try again next year.

If you had told my poor LSH when we first had children, that someday they would want to learn everything there is to know about a cow, he wouldn't have believed you.

(a) bovine spongiform encephalopathy; (b) Guernsey; (c) McDonalds; (d) 2-3 weeks; (e) 10 pounds; (f) July. I learned a few things along the way as well!

Friday, March 16, 2012

update on the chaos

I feel like I can't enter the weekend without a quick follow-up to yesterday's calamity-filled post. Things did indeed look up once I returned to the farm loaded down with every kind of stock feed known to man. Perhaps the gods just needed an animal feed offering?

The billing program worked.

The lights in the basement came on.

The water pressure was back to normal levels.

(I didn't test my luck by fooling with the trailer door.)

Secondo is still forgetful, however, and I had to swing by the middle school with a critical piece of homework this morning, but that's not anything out of the ordinary. I am chalking the rest of it up to the recent spate of sun flares.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

a study in entropy

There is no greater place for entropy to do it's dastardly work than a farm. Farms are working proof that nature skews towards disorder at all times, and no matter how hard you might push back against the principal, it is a losing battle. Nature always wins.

Today was just such a proof-filled day, and it wasn't only the farm conspiring against me. It was pretty much every system possible.

I started out trying to print Secondo's essay. The home printer would print one page before descending into gobbledegook. I switched to the printer in my LSH's office, which was working fine just yesterday. It refused to do anything. I managed to make a third, little-used printer spit it out, and then Secondo left it on the kitchen counter and had to sprint back down the driveway before the bus arrived.

Speaking of Secondo... He was asked to shut the trailer door yesterday, after it had somehow become unlatched. He failed to remember when he went out to lock up the chickens. As a matter of fact, he also forgot to lock up the chickens (luckily no chicken loss). Wind blew the door back against the trailer all night long and bent the frame. Remains to be seen how / if / when it can be fixed.

I was in a mood by this point, and decided a run would be the best way to blow off steam (as opposed to, say, chewing a kid's head off, plus the kid had left for school, lucky kid). Running watch failed to charge, despite being on the charger for two days straight. Probably ran my fastest run ever due to mounting frustration levels, but I'll never know now, will I?

Water pressure low for shower. Blamed my LSH for forgetting to turn off the hose to the back pastures. He thought it was me putting a load in the washer. Neither was right. Don't really want to think about what the real reason might be.

Speaking of laundry, little pull cord on the lights in the basement no longer working. Gave up on folding laundry in the gloom.

No cat food.

No rabbit food.

No sheep food.

Of course the billing system for my LSH's office is wonky and refuses to recognize insurance companies that don't start with the letter "A". I really shouldn't have touched it today.

I am leaving the farm now, to get all that darn food, and don't plan to return for a good long while. Maybe by the time I come back this black cloud will have blown over.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Only four days late! Shearing day always knocks me out for at least a week, exhaustion-wise, and the time change that night didn't help matters. I am just now coming up for air.

As these things go, it was a relatively smooth shearing. We had a bit of trouble getting the ewes penned up into the barn that morning. After months of an uninterrupted run of the back fields, they sensed something was up. Sheep are not stupid... The first crew got them all the way from the back fields right to the barn door. Accounts differ as to whether it was unseasoned sheep wranglers (one of Secondo's friends kindly lending a hand) or Dusty, but for whatever reason, the entire flock turned tail and ran all the way back into the field where they started. Two more people on the job and we finally got them turned around and headed in, except for this stubborn cuss, who had to be dragged all the way:

That's Jenny. She has been wild since the day she arrived almost two years ago, but then again, she doesn't really give us much trouble health-wise, so we feel we can't complain. She refuses to be broken to halter or even to go where all the other sheep are going, so moving her around can be a chore.

Shearing day always goes by in a giant blur. I am so busy trying to remember all that has to be done, that I barely have a memory of who is here and what they are doing or even what I am supposed to be doing. Luckily the shearer knows exactly what he is doing.

Same with our chapter of the ISPSPP*, who are well-versed in their art, even though they were forced to operate without one of their charter members. My dad was feeling very poorly at that point and stayed mostly in the house, though he still insisted on cooking the entire brunch; yes, I felt properly guilty when he was admitted to the hospital that night with pneumonia. (He is out and on the mend now, thank goodness.)

I don't know what we would do without them. They are right there to catch the fleece up as the shearer is done and get it properly laid out on the skirting table, while offering helpful comments to me about the state of the fleece and its former owner. Rumors abound that farms in other states are trying to convince them to lend their mad skirting skillz to other shearing operations; that's how good they are.

They certainly did a masterful job, and I have plenty of fleeces ready for their second, more thorough skirting, though I can't even think about that just yet.

Meanwhile the sheep have spent the past few days getting reacquainted. Every year, they suffer same confusion as a virtual stranger is popped back into their pen. Sans fleece, they have no idea who the intruder is and beat up on her until a critical majority is similarly de-fleeced. Then they wander around sniffing each other and working out the pecking order all over again.

The rams even went so far as to lick one another during this process.

OK, so maybe sheep are just a little bit stupid.

* International Society of Professional Sheep Poop Pickers

Sunday, March 11, 2012

behind the scenes

I thought I would get the shearing day photos posted yesterday, but it turned out to be an even crazier night. Plus I can't put my hands on that camera on the moment, so the photos will have to wait a day or two until I locate it.

I can offer photos of the Philadelphia Flower Show instead though, because I do know where that camera is! Unfortunately the only day we could make it down there was yesterday, after shearing, and now I can give you the best advice ever on attending the PFS:

Never, ever, go on a Saturday afternoon, especially after you spent the morning at a sheep shearing.

The show was spectacular, as always, and chock-full of orchids to befit the Hawaiian theme. This waterfall, dotted with orchids on both sides, all the way to the top, was amazing (and my inability to get a clear shot gives an inkling of the crowds):

The displays by this florist are always one of my favorites, and the color wheel arrangement of orchids on the table did not disappoint.

The crowds, our exhaustion, and a drastically-changed layout from prior years really interfered with our ability to see the entire thing. Although we thought we viewed everything, I was most distressed to learn that I had missed an entire wall made of lettuce heads, arranged in a pattern.

Unfortunately for my dad but fortunately for me, however, Secondo and I got to return to the show this evening after it closed to help my mom retrieve their show entry plants. This meant a rare chance to see it with no crowds, though we had to look sharp for forklifts. (Unfortunately for my dad, because he is in the hospital with pneumonia; get well soon, dad!)

Some of the exhibits were already well-dismantled by the time we walked around; only holes and a few scattered petals attested to the fact that beautiful displays were there just an hour before.

Enough were still remaining that we felt like we got a second bite at the apple, though, including a much better picture of the waterfall, from a different angle, with helpful kid included for scale:

I found this beautiful gate, which I hadn't spotted yesterday though I know I walked past it:

And best of all, we found the wall of lettuce!

This garden display, mounted by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society to publicize their Community Gardens program, was one of my favorite in the show (though it obviously had nothing to do with Hawaii). The cold frame boxes—which I have been meaning to build for myself since we moved here 10 years ago—were drool-worthy.

Same for the overhead trellis, which on closer inspection proved to be loaded with ripening cherry tomatoes!

This display alone was well worth the return visit; the price of several trips on a freight elevator was a small one to pay.

Friday, March 9, 2012

apple pie cake

Shearing day is tomorrow and I have been busy getting food ready for the people who are coming, both to help and to watch. We are going with brunch-type foods this year, as we only have 10 sheep to shear and I think we will be done relatively quickly. At least, that's the plan, although these things don't always go according to plan.

I have a strata chilling in the fridge to bake tomorrow, and my dad will be bringing his egg specialty; both recipes are available on a post from way back in 2008. (Geez, guess we'd better vary the menu a little!) Fresh strawberries and pineapple are cleaned and cut. Sausage links and cinnamon buns in a can will be cooked/baked tomorrow morning, and guests will be bringing donuts and bagels. It will be quite a spread!

We have one dish that I have to make no matter what the menu (brunch or lunch), because our excellent shearer Hoyt has issued a standing request for it. I don't want to chance Hoyt not coming back, so I always include it. Luckily it is a dead-easy recipe and a family favorite as well. If I am ever stuck for a dessert, chances are that I have all the ingredients for this and can whip it up quickly.

(Please excuse the lack of photos of all the ingredients but it is the day before shearing! I figure if you are able to read this blog, you know what baking soda and sugar look like. No need to show the steps either, as you just bung everything into the mixing bowl, almost all at the same time. The hardest part is peeling the apples.)

Apple Pie Cake (aka Shearer's Delight)
½ C softened butter  
2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 C white flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
1 t nutmeg
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
¼ C hot water
5 C peeled and diced apples

Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in remainder of ingredients except the apples. Once ingredients are well blended, stir in apples. Bake in greased and floured pan (I use vegetable oil spray) at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

You can sprinkle powdered sugar on the top
if you want to jazz it up a little.

The visual results are rather unprepossessing but the smell and taste are not... It will be a challenge to keep the boys away from it until it is cut and served tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

barn clean: check

Despite the fact that I feel well behind the eight ball, the fact remains: sheep wait for no man (or woman, for that matter, they don't discriminate). Our shearing date is this coming Saturday. It seems a bit early in the calendar, but I am thrilled that we are getting the coats and fleeces off prior to lambing at the end of the month. It is so much easier, for us and the lambs, not to have to deal with all that wool!

The first order of business was getting the barn clean. The weekend was a complete write-off as far as time for this task, but the boys rose to the occasion after school and track practice and various other activities.

Light spilling out of barn doors: one of the coziest sights I know.

The older two worked on the pitching out the old hay.

They put Terzo in charge of loading feed bags into a trashcan, which he did his way, which involved using a hoe to violently tamp down the bags into the can.

I am not sure the trash guys will be able to dump them out now, but at least they are mostly gone from the barn. How do they manage to build up in such great quantities?

Dusty wanted to stay out with the boys and kept trying to sneak back into the barn, but he is on a short leash (figuratively speaking) after running down the county road after Primo's bus the other morning. He is obviously OK, but he nearly gave Primo—he called me frantically from the bus—and me heart attacks. He has become much worse about roaming freely since Charlie left us, as if Charlie was a tether that kept him closer to home. We are keeping a close eye on him until he gets it out of his system.

Monday, March 5, 2012

they like it!

So yesterday I am at a bit of a loose end with an idea for a post... thinking about a post about dressing my chickens*, but didn't have time to dig up all the explanatory pictures, plus I had just finished a basic black hat that day. It drives me crazy when I take the time to figure out a pattern just the way I want it, then I gift the item away without writing the particulars down so I cannot remember what I did. (Patch Pocket Scarves, I am talking to you.)

I resolved to take the time to write out the little pattern in the post, and add it to the Ravelry database as being available to the general public. This means that my pattern will show up when one of the 2,000,000 (TWO MILLION!**) members of Ravelry do a search for a fitted hat pattern that would work for the DK weight yarn they have sitting in their stash.

(Let me add in here a little plug for Ravelry, not that it really needs my help or anything, but still... If you knit or crochet, and you do not belong to that site, why the heck not? If for no other reason that it makes it dead easy for you to look up a fitted knit hat pattern that would work for the DK weight yarn you have in your stash.)

Today I did my usual early morning check on Ravelry to find....

Two people had posted very nice comments on my pattern.

And four people had indicated that they wanted to knit my pattern at some point, by putting it in their queue (a working list for things you want to make, which you can organize and prioritize; join Ravelry so you can see what a great feature it is).

By this evening, 9 people had put it in their queues, and 30 people had listed it as a favorite pattern.

Say it with me: Holy crap! They like my pattern, right now, they like my pattern!

Small potatoes when you are talking about an audience of 2,000,000 people, but I'll take it!

* Sorry to leave a teaser like that; I will try to find the pictures soon!

** This milestone in membership was reached on Leap Day—how fitting.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

earwarmer hat

The son of the office manager of my LSH's practice (got that?) is a member of the NYPD, and an all-around good guy. As a thank you for a particular favor, he asked for a plain black knit cap. I showed his mother all kinds of hats with ribbing or clever square decreases but he didn't want any of those. He wanted as plain a watchcap as possible, and no other color but black in it.

I would have double-knit him a cap for maximum warmth, but I was unsure of my ability to tell the two yarn sources apart without color to guide me (as well as my sanity to knit both sides in black). I had a nice merino superwash in my stash, but I worried it was a bit thin at DK weight. After fiddling around for a bit, I came up with this pattern. The double thickness on the ribbing band should provide a really warm layer for his ears, and the tightly knit top will keep the top of the head warm as well.

Earwarmer Hat

Size: Adult

Materials: 250 yards of DK weight yarn (make the ribbing slightly shorter to use less yarn); I used Jaggerspun Super Lamb 4/8 (100% merino; 1120 yds/1024m per cone); color: black.

Recommended Needle Size:
16 in. US #7/4.5mm circular needle
16 in. US #4/3.5 mm circular needle
Set of US #4/3.5 mm double pointed needles

Stitch marker
Yarn needle

With larger needles in rib pattern, 9 st/12 rows = approx. 2 in./5 cm.
With smaller needles in stockinette, 24 st/30 rows = approx. 4 in./10 cm.

With yarn held double, CO 96 stitches using larger needles. PM and join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.

Start rib of K2, P2. Knit 18 rows in rib with yarn held double. Ribbing measures approx. 3 in.

Switch to smaller circular needles, and drop one strand of yarn. Remainder of hat will be worked with single remaining strand.

Treating each stitch from the larger needle as being composed of two stitches (one from each strand of yarn),
*(k2tog 3 times) k2* repeat from * to * until end of round (120 st.).

Knit in the round in stockinette st until hat measures approx. 4 in./10 cm. from end of ribbing.

Start decreases: *K10 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (110 st).

Knit two rounds in stockinette st.

*K9 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (100 st), knit 2 rounds in stockinette st.

*K8 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (90 st), knit 2 rounds in stockinette st.

*K7 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (80 st), knit 2 rounds in stockinette st.

*K6 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (70 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st.

*K5 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (60 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st. Switch to dpns.

*K4 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (50 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st.

*K3 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (40 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st.

*K2 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (30 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st.

*K1 K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (20 st), knit 1 round in stockinette st.

*K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (10 st).

*K2tog* repeat from * to * until end of round (5 st).

Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight.

Weave in all ends.

Fold brim up to wear; adjust depth of brim as preferred.

In other news—Primo's back.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

four for a day

For the second weekend this year, Primo is away for a teen event (this time for 4-H). He will be spending almost a month in total away from us this year at various camps and conventions. I guess it is the best way to ease us into his eventual absence when he goes to college, but the house sure does feel a little empty without him.

The rest of us decided to run down to Philadelphia today to take our minds off of being left behind. After a quick errand (the real reason for the trip) and a dim sum lunch in Chinatown (cannot eat anything else if we find ourselves in Philly at lunchtime), we decided to visit the National Constitution Center. Although we had heard great things about it, we just hadn't taken time to go—and as an added bonus, it had a Springsteen exhibit.

The reviews were all true! It is a great museum. A ton of information is presented in a very accessible way. My only quibble would be that the information is packed so densely together, it can sometimes be difficult to hear the different media. Some of it was above Terzo's comprehension level, but he did seem to get the basic idea of why the Constitution was necessary in the first place. Secondo, my history buff, really enjoyed it and was the perfect target age.

Independence Hall in the background

Afterwards I begged them to squeeze in a quick trip to Loop, a yarn store on South Street.  I had come to a standstill on a particular project, and after much reflection, realized that the colors of the yarn I had chosen, unfortunately online, were all wrong for what I wanted to do.

The store is a visually-stunning place to visit: a riot of color set against a bright neutral background. Best of all, they had what I was looking for. Although the store is very spare in appearance, it is deceptive, as the selection was quite good. I am thrilled with what I found, so much so that I don't mind starting the project all over again.